GMC Canyon Denali test drive

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While the new GMC Canyon looks different from the previous generation, it doesn’t really look like an all-new design. It seems only truck fans and previous owners will be able to tell the difference. It looks fine and quite aggressive like it’s trying to make up for its smaller size. The chrome grille seems bigger than ever, but in general, it looks like something that could have been on the road 10 years ago or more.

It is very different inside where everything does look much better and much more modern than the previous generation. It is truly a great truck interior design. The Denali model has a very nice-looking wood trim and leather seats. The metal finish and dashboard baking also look great.

However, when you actually start touching things, you realize most of the interior is actually hard plastic. Except for the armrest.

The great-looking interior is ruined by a very frustrating infotainment system and bizarro ergonimics. Finding basic functions like the radio requires diving into many layers of menus on the screen. For some reason, the screen also controls the lights, although there are tons of buttons and switches everywhere. A nice idea is a console switch to lower all windows at once. Except it doesn’t bring them back up (?!?!)

It’s a constant series of baffling little things like this that makes you wonder who designed this and why. Like if no one ever tried any of this before it went on sale.

The Denali version also includes a premium Bose audio system that actually doesn’t sound very premium.

The rear seat is fine but there isn’t that much room back there. Some compact cars like the Honda Civic are actually more spacious for rear passengers.

Driving the new GMC Canyon is a mixed bag of bad and terrible.

The first thing you notice is the tractor-like sound of the big 2.7 Liter 4 cylinder engine. Sure, it does have plenty of power, but that noise is there all the time and doesn’t really ever settle down, even when cruising down the highway. It also vibrates through the seat, just making sure you know it’s working, I guess. The rough droning gets really tiresome after a while. The previous generation‘s V6 was much, much more pleasant.

The AWD Denali version I was driving is rated at 17MPG City/21HWY. The best I got around town was 12MPG. That’s right, 12. Which is much worse than what I got with the previous generation with a 3.6 Liter V6 delivering almost 17 around town. And up to almost 28 on the freeway while this new 2.7 Liter got 22 at best. That’s also about what you get in the larger Sierra Pickup.

Once you get going, the ride is another disappointment. I don’t expect a GMC truck to drive like a Lexus, but the $ 54,000 Denali version is pretty much marketed as a luxurious vehicle, for which a semi-decent ride is expected. This is not the case at all. The ride is one of the worst I’ve experienced. It is constantly moving up and down, side to side. It only settles down on the smoothest of roads. Which are hard to find…

The new Canyon seems to be a truck for truck lovers only. I can’t imagine anyone going from a car or comfortable SUV to this for daily use. Which is very strange since I actually liked the previous generation. I remember being quite surprised at some really old features of the interior (Like a foot pedal for the parking brake), but it was fine otherwise.

I guess if you want comfort in a mid-sized truck, the Honda Ridgeline is still the best choice by far. The Honda has a very smooth and sophisticated ride. And its super quiet V6 got better mileage than the Canyon’s 4-cylinder. Since I got around 15MPG around town and 24MPG on the highway.

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